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Whether you are visiting the island for a spot of post-safari relaxation or as a stand-alone destination, Zanzibar is the perfect blend of island getaway and historical charm. Zanzibar Island is a semi-autonomous state of Tanzania and part of the wider Zanzibar Archipelago, made up of over 50 islands ranging from tiny outcrops in the middle of the Indian Ocean to the larger, more populated islands of Pemba and Unguja, the official name for Zanzibar. The island itself is just six degrees south of the equator and 35km off the coast of mainland Tanzania. It is the perfect place to relax after an East or Southern African safari!


Zanzibar has enjoyed a complex and turbulent history. Ancient pottery demonstrates that traders from Arabia, the Persian Gulf and India probably visited Zanzibar as early as the 1st century AD. The island was a strategic stop-off point that gave traders access to Africa’s Swahili Coast. From the 1500s the Portuguese Empire colonised the island until it fell under the control of the Sultanate of Oman in 1698. In 1890 Zanzibar became a British protectorate, eventually gaining independence in 1963. By early 1964 the Republic of Zanzibar and Pemba became incorporated into mainland Tanganyika to become the United Republic of Tanzania. Today, the island is rich in Arabian and Indian influences, evident in the varying architectural styles of Stone Town and the traditional fishing dhows that billow across the ocean. 


Some things to note


  • The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar is the semi-autonomous government of Zanzibar, a part of Tanzania. It is made up of a Revolutionary Council and a House of Representatives of Zanzibar. The head of the government is the President of Zanzibar, who is also the chairman of the Revolutionary Council, currently Dr. Ali Mohammed Shein.

  • Is bigger than you might imagine - 2400 sq km, or about 2 hrs [slow] drive from north to south

  • Is 95% Muslim

  • Has 1,4 million people and very high unemployment

  • Subsistence farming and fishing are the main occupations along with lots of roadside enterprises like woodwork and weaving, steelwork and food markets

  • It's hot and humid, properly TROPICAL with occasional rain showers

  • Is poor and developed and it’s visible that very little tourist revenue gets to the people

  • Has a disintegrating airport and although a new terminal building has been years in the making and is nearly complete - is still 'years away'!

  • Has the finest white sand beaches anywhere I have been and bathtub warm water

  • Has superb resorts and guest houses with excellent food and seafood!

  • Has huge tidal zone where beaches are exposed all the way to the reef and water is far out - in most areas except the north west

  • Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar's Government Hospital on 5 September 1946. His parents Bomi and Jer Bulsara were Parsees - followers of the Zoroastrian religion whose ancestors came from Persia - but they had lived in India.

  • Has a very colourful history - read more here

  • People love soccer and most evenings you will see soccer pitches busy with games on the go

  • Spice farms are prevalent, usually around 2hrs + (best farms are about 30 mins from Stone Town) best to combine a tour of Stone Town and spices on your way in or out of the island

  • Road quality is average, some good newly surfaced to others that are potholed and narrow passing through busy villages, off the main roads are dirt tracks that require walking pace only speeds, but only short sections usually as you approach the hotels and lodges, roads under construction

  • Stone Town is busy and full of cars and scooters, slow going



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